Talking Points: Birthright Citizenship and the 14th Amendment
14th Amendment and Birthright Citizenship
What is Birthright Citizenship? The citizenship clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees U.S. citizenship to any person born on U.S. soil (including its territories), with the exception of the children of diplomats and invading armies.
Why are people talking about it? Some members of Congress believe that repealing the 14th amendment would be an effective way to stem the flow of undocumented people into the country. Germany, the UK, Australia, and Japan have all discovered that this is not the case, and there are severe negative consequences, outlined below.
It will not discourage undocumented people from entering the country.
- Not guaranteeing birthright citizenship is not enough of a disincentive for immigrants to come to the U.S.
- Immigrants come to the U.S. to work and join family members.
- The "anchor baby" argument is a myth because a U.S.-born child won't protect his/her parents from being deported.
It's Constitutional Law.
- The citizenship clause of the 14th amendment has been constitutional law since 1868 (almost 150 years!).
- The Supreme Court has confirmed this in several court decisions, such as United States v. Wong Kim Ark.
If repealed, the number of undocumented people would increase.
- The repeal would effect future U.S.-born generations.
- One consequence: descendants of today's immigrants that have no connection to their ancestor country and no U.S. citizenship.
- It would establish a permanent class of unauthorized people.
It's expensive and would result in more bureaucracy.
- Most people don't have another document proving their citizenship besides a birth certificate (most Americans don't have passports).
- The system we already have is straightforward and easy.
- Repeal means the government would have to create a new bureaucracy to determine the citizenship of all U.S.-born children.
- All parents, not just immigrant parents, would have to prove their citizenship.
- This would be expensive.
For more information:
Migration Policy Institute: The Demographic Impacts of Repealing Birthright Citizenship
Immigration Policy Institute: Eliminating Birthright Citizenship Would Not Solve the Problem of Unauthorized Immigration
Immigration Policy Center: Made in America: Myths and Facts about Birthright Citizenship
Franciscan Action Network: Background on Birthright Citizenship
Los Angeles Times: A Heavy Price to Ending Birthright Citizenship